Governor Gavin Newsom’s recent decision to veto a bill that would have decriminalized the possession and personal use of psilocybin-containing mushrooms in California was met with widespread disappointment. Cited by Gov. Newsom said the need for more research and the implementation of guidelines before decriminalization can be implemented.
I believe this veto is a mistake. As the CEO of Filament Health, a leading psychedelic drug development company currently conducting clinical trials of psilocybin in California, I feel I am uniquely positioned to explain why a regulated market for psilocybin is necessary. to be implemented by the state as soon as possible.
The perception of psychedelics has shifted in recent years from an underground phenomenon to a recognized therapeutic breakthrough. Psilocybin, a psychoactive compound found in magic mushrooms, has gained attention for its potential to treat mental health conditions such as depression, substance use disorders and PTSD, and has been recognized as a potential therapy of the Food and Drug Administration. This is more important now than ever as society faces a mental health crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is a growing body of clinical evidence demonstrating the safety and efficacy of psilocybin. For example, research has shown that psilocybin can help individuals with treatment-resistant depression experience significant improvements in their mental health. At Filament Health, our natural drug candidate psilocybin is being studied in a variety of clinical trials for a variety of indications, including a trial at UCSF for methamphetamine use disorder and a trial at UCLA for depression.
As clinical research on psilocybin has grown in the US, so has legislative openness to it. Both Oregon and Colorado have passed legislation allowing for the therapeutic use of psilocybin derived from magic mushrooms, setting standards and guidelines for responsible management. California has the opportunity to draw from the experiences of these pioneering states that can serve as models to follow in establishing a regulated market.
California should also look north to Canada, where a framework was established where hundreds of people were legally prescribed psilocybin last year. The Canadian government has set up a “Special Access Program,” where doctors can request access to unapproved drugs for patients in emergency medical situations, such as end of life distress. Filament Health has provided more than 150 patients with our natural drug candidate psilocybin through the program, with positive results.
Additionally, it is important to note that humans have been safely consuming mushrooms containing psilocybin for millennia. It was only because of prohibition in the 1960s and the War on Drugs that these substances became scheduled, and gained a negative reputation. These policies disproportionately affect people of color and other marginalized communities.
California is at the forefront of America’s substance use crisis, with nearly 700 overdose deaths in San Francisco alone this year. The state is facing some of the most serious social problems and the current solutions are not working. Establishing a regulated psilocybin market would be a valuable addition to the state’s mental health toolkit, offering much-needed alternative treatment options especially for those who do not respond well. of traditional therapies.
In a state that is traditionally progressive, Gov. Newsom’s opportunity to provide a lifeline for Californians struggling with mental health conditions and set a precedent for responsible drug policy across the country.
Ben Lightburn is the CEO of Filament Health.